Values Modes

Imagine. You’re a young, ambitious individual, you think the world is complicated – fascinating even – and you embrace change. You’re motivated by transparency and fairness in the world, you buy ethical products or at least think about it and you want to make your own choices in life.

Wasn’t that hard to imagine, was it? The very fact you are visiting this website, and interest yourself in social marketing, shows you’re curious and want to learn what makes people tick.

This is what can be described as a Pioneer.

A Pioneer is one of three Values Modes, together with the Prospector and the Settler. Values Modes is a segmentation tool developed by Cultural Dynamics and is based on the British Values Survey that has been asking questions about people’s values, beliefs and motivations for over thirty years. Think of these like an iceberg, where demographics, lifestyles and attitudes form the easily seen and observed ‘tip of the iceberg’, values are the unseen drivers of the behaviours and perceptions. We all have different motivations in us, but to differing extents. The best campaigners know how to appeal to audiences who are seeing the world very differently to them.

You might find yourself astonished sometimes by other people’s behaviour. After everything we know about climate change and CO2 emissions, who would still drive a hummer? Wildlife is becoming endangered in many parts of the world, and yet there are people who care about nothing else but the thrill of the hunt and the trophy to bring home afterwards.

I present to you: the Prospector. Prospectors are driven by esteem of others. They are motivated to acquire and display symbols of success, such as a trophy lion to take home. At the same time, they can be charismatic leaders, as they do not like to ponder over things too long, but take straightforward decisions.

Or what about the people who reminisce fondly of the past, view all change with distrust and see a future only of decline.  These are the Settlers. They are driven by security. Their home is their castle, and want things to stay the way they have always been.


Image Credit: Chris Rose

So what does all this mean for you as a social marketeer? According to Values Modes, people’s behaviour is driven by their predominant current unmet need. Settlers are driven by the need for sustenance and security, Pioneers by the need for self-actualisation and Prospectors by the need for success and the esteem of others. Of course we all have all of these needs in us at any one time, but your current predominant need trumps the others and determines where we are on the values map.

Knowing this need is a powerful thing as it helps you to target your intervention, communication strategy, campaigning, or whatever it is you’re creating. In order to be successful, it should be your aim to meet the need of your audience in every intervention you plan.

The Campaign Company did a project in Ealing to look into how effective the council’s campaigns and communication tactics on recycling were and what channels and messages could best be utilised.

When you think of recycling, you think of helping the climate. At least, that’s what I’m thinking of. Some people in Ealing thought the same.

“Recycling helps reduce carbon emissions from landfill,” is a quote coming out of the focus groups.

Seems very simple, when a council tells their residents they should recycle to save the environment, everyone will do so. Well, it is not as simple as it seems.

“We recycle because the council provided us with four bins about 12 years ago, so we started recycling then. I have never thought about why we should recycle.”

This is a quote that fits in the Settler perspective: you do something, because it is the right thing to do. The government has thought about it, thought of the reasons why, came to the conclusion that recycling is the right thing to do, so it is our job to listen.

“Recycling is important to keep the area clean.”

It’s simple, it makes sense, it’s a Prospector. A dirty area doesn’t give much to be proud of, right?

You can see how these different types of motivations would make your intervention different for every type of audience you are dealing with.

It is important to emphasise that we apply this approach in a wholly non-judgemental way.  One values group is not better, they are just different.  And the objective is not to try to turn everyone into Pioneers if that is what we are.  The power lies in the empathetic reach it gives us.  The world needs all three groups: the Pioneers to be curious, adventurous and to start new things; the Prospectors to drive things forward and make things as successful as they can be; and the Settlers to make sure we are consistent – follow the rules and keep at it.
Curious what you are? Take the test here


Merel Spijkerman is a Project Coordinator at The Campaign Company. She graduated from the University of Brighton in 2014 with an MSc Social Marketing.




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